- Burkina Faso, the restrictions on the right to strike for civil servants remains in place, while magistrates are banned from striking altogether. Further, trade unionists are often subjected to intimidation.
In Burkina Faso, labour rights generally are not respected. These are the conclusions of the annual survey of violations of trade union rights, released yesterday by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
The right to form trade unions is however recognised in law, with the exception of those in essential services. Unions in theory further have the right to engage in collective bargaining for wages and other working conditions. The right to strike is also officially recognised.
- However, the government has the right to requisition public servants in the event of a strike, the ISFTU survey notes. "This can be applied to all civil servants, not just those who exercise authority in the name of the State or the interruption of whose services would endanger life or safety.
Some civil servants are even entirely banned from striking, notably labour inspectors and uniformed personnel.
At the end of October 2001, the Minister of Justice announced that, under a major reform of the justice system, magistrates would no longer be allowed to go on strike. The ban followed the first strike by magistrates in 41 years, organised that April by the Burkinabe Magistrates' Union (SBM).
The rights given by the Burkinabe labour laws however looked very differently when applied in practice, the survey found. "In practice trade unionists are often subjected to intimidation," ICFTU said.
In previous years some union leaders had been transferred away from their membership base and trade union meetings were raided. There had also been reports that the authorities had "sought to undermine or weaken trade unions, especially during strike action."
In several cases, the privatisation of state enterprises had been undertaken without adequate trade union consultation, if at all, the trade unionists confederation complained.
- Protest action has often resulted in the workers and their union representatives being victimised, suspended or dismissed, the survey says. "Media workers, and especially journalists have also faced considerable difficulties."
The ICFTU survey lists violations of trade union rights all over the world. In Africa, in general, the lack of state control mechanisms and democracy had become more acute and was "further undermining the fundamental rights of the continent's citizens," according to a press release by spokesman Louis Belanger.
The survey had listed 37 African countries, where it had found violations of labour rights. Burkina Faso was one of those, and here, some of the gravest violations, including intimidation, were registered. Worst this year, as in previous years, was however Zimbabwe.
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